Every morning on the official Marvel Twitter feed, we kick things off by selecting a Spotlight Character for the day. Typically this is something Ryan, what with being Lord of the Twitter and all, would take care of, but with him out post-wedding the first couple days of this week, it fell to myself and Cerilli to handle things. When it came time to choose the Spotlight Character, I just turned to our new intern Kevin and asked him who his favorite Marvel character was.
"I like Longshot."
After Cerilli and I finished razzing the youngster about choosing a dude who sports a mullet and sleeveless leather vest in 2009, I got to thinking a bit about Longshot. You see, unlike Richard Dragon or Shang-Chi, Longshot is not a martial arts master who was created in the 1970's; however, much like Richard Dragon or Shang-Chi, Longshot is a character I have often had some strange affinity for and desired to know more about despite never really reading a wealth of good comics starring him.
My first memory of Longshot is getting a free copy of X-Men #11--Jim Lee's last issue on the book where Longshot seemingly kills Mojo and then finds out Dazzler is pregnant with his --as some sort of promotional deal for Papa Gino's or somewhere. I was mostly gaga over the Jim Lee art at that point, but I could not deny that there was something about this bizarre alternate dimension ruled by a fat blob via controlling TV ratings and the four-fingered Dolph Lundgren-looking type in the copious amounts of black leather who was trying to lead some sort of rebellion.
I caught another whiff of Longshot and the utterly strange mythology surrounding him when he showed up in a pair of X-Men: The Animated Series episodes ("Mojovision" and "Longshot" for those keeping score at home). Seeing the Mojoverse and all its inherent weirdness animated for television was not unlike watching the Muppets or something in that the whole analogy of TV and the networks being some sort of metaphor for loss of individuality and ultimate tyranny was pretty heady, yet they managed to package it into something totally kid-friendly and harmless on the surface. Mojo and the origin of his world really is a pretty brilliant and unique platform, but let's get back to that.
At that point, I really saw Longshot just as one small piece of the larger trippy and appealing Mojoverse puzzle. When I got around to reading some of the Uncanny X-Men run where he was a member of the team, though, seeing him divorced for the most part from those trappings heightened my curiosity. There were just so many quirky little nuggets about Longshot, from his bizarre appearance (and Marc Silvestri did a great job setting him apart from the rest of the cast) to his nebulous "good luck" powers to his naive ability to score any chick despite looking like he belonged in Flock of Seagulls to the fact that he had hollow bones for some strange reason (I don't know if that ever came into play in any story other than Fall of the Mutants where he is able to ride the wind currents up to fight the Adversary because he weighs next to nothing).
Fascination with Longshot's weirdness also beget a sort of admiration of and appreciation for his swashbuckling heroics (he was kinda Nightcrawler while Nightcrawler was MIA) and the fact that he was an absurd optimist in the grim world of the 1980's X-Men, where everything was horrible all the time and this dude still had a smile on his face 90% of the time. The bit at the end of Inferno where Mr. Sinister and the Marauders beat every single X-Man and X-Factor member but don't get Longshot because he's "just lucky" and he's gotta make the last stand is a great moment in the classic "Green Arrow/Hawkeye has to make the one-in-a-million trickshot to take out the villain who just beat up Superman/Thor" tradition.
Time has marched on and Longshot was marginalized for many years, making the occasional guest appearance and hanging around the Exiles for a bit. I actually love his current role in X-Factor as Peter David is the perfect writer to appreciate the absurdity of trying to make a character as dated on the surface as Longshot work in a modern setting and have fun with the square peg/round hole dynamic yet still manage to take it seriously enough to creat a compelling character arc.
My big regret with this character however is that unlike say Richard Dragon or Shang-Chi, he does have a seminal story attached to him and I've just never gotten my grubby paws on it.
Longshot debuted in a self-title six-part 1985 limited series written by Ann Nocenti with art by Arthur Adams that from what I understand is regarded as something of an underground classic. That mini is where everything from Mojo to Spiral to all the TV analogies and subversive messages about the power of fame that have become a fixture of the X-Men mythos for the past two decades came from. It's truly a lost classic for me as I've always been curious to read more of Ann Nocenti's work given that her intensely psychological style seems right up my alley, I'd find a series of blocks drawn by Art Adams to be beautiful, and I want to get the full story on Longshot to boot. It's probably crazy, but I really feel like once I read the original Longshot some whole new avenue of comic book fandom and understanding previously closed to me will suddenly open (or at the very least I'll maybe get that whole Ricochet Rita thing and why Mojo does the Clockwork Orange thing to his eyes).
So if you know somebody who works at Marvel, I urge you to ask them to get Longshot collected in an afforable softcover because I'd really like to check it out.